Rare handkerchief map of the United States, printed in full color

Engraved by G[eorge] W. Boynton / [Printed by Joseph Willard Tuttle], A MAP OF THE UNITED STATES, FROM THE LATEST SURVEYS. WITH THE HEIGHT OF MOUNTAINS And length of the PRINCIPAL RIVERS.  PATENT. Boston: [Tremont Print Company? Joseph Willard Tuttle?], 1841.
Engraved map printed in four colors on cloth, 24 ¾”h x 24 ¾”w at neat line plus margins. Color somewhat faded, minor foxing and staining. About very good.

A rare and decorative 1841 handkerchief map of the United States, one of only four early American cartographic textiles identified in Threads of History.

Tuttle’s map depicts the United States to 24 degrees west of Washington, including parts of the territory just west of the Missouri River and of the Republic of Texas. The cartographic prototype is unknown, though the map does bear some resemblance to Tanner’s 1829 map of the United States.  As a concession to the challenge of printing on linen Tuttle has simplified the geography to emphasize only the most important rivers and towns.

At the base are two interesting charts depicting the lengths and heights respectively of the nation’s major rivers and mountains.  The visual appeal of the image is greatly enhanced by the delicate foliate border and the full printed color.  This map was also issued in an uncolored variant printed in sepia, held for example in the Rumsey Collection.

The map appeared in a number of variants.  Some four-color examples bear the additional imprint “Printed and published by Joseph W. Tuttle & Company,” though in at least some cases the “& Company” is crossed out in ink. Tuttle was a Boston map engraver active in the second quarter of the 19thcentury, though Stauffer’s American Engravers mentions him only in the context of the partnership of Morse & Tuttle, established in the 1830s.  That partnership must have been dissolved by 1841, when this map was issued.

There are also versions bearing the Tuttle imprint but printed in one color, either black (Threads of History, #153) or sepia (Rumsey #2955).

The textile was advertised in the Boston Daily Atlas for May 25, 1841:

“We found upon our table yesterday an entire new article for pocket handkerchiefs, an exact and accurate copy of the map of the United States, printed in permanent color upon white silk.  It makes a neat and splendid handkerchief, and must be at the same time exceedingly useful and convenient for reference, the color being entirely fast.  It is printed and published by Joseph W. Tuttle, and was engraved by Mr Geo. W. Boynton, who is entitled to great credit for the taste and skill displayed in the work.  The goods are for sale by the package or piece, by William G. Eaton, 36 Kilby street.”  (page 2)

I have found but one appearance of this ad, which seems consistent with the rarity of the item.

Rumsey #2955 (sepia, Tuttle imprint).  Threads of History, #152 (with #153 being the Tuttle variant in black only).  As of March 2019 OCLC has other examples of our color-printed variant at #36187918 (Boston Public-Leventhal Map Center, Kentucky Historical Society, and Library of Congress) and 37651857 (Library of Congress again, but with slightly different dimensions).  The uncolored variant is listed at OCLC #953568550 (Stanford-Rumsey only).